The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens


USDA reports fourth case of BSE found

The nation’s fourth case of bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) has been found in a dead dairy cow in California, the Agriculture Department announced today.
John Clifford, USDA chief veterinary officer

John Clifford
The cow had lived on a dairy farm in central California, USDA Chief Veterinary Officer John Clifford told reporters at a briefing. The cow had been delivered to a California rendering facility, and the evidence of BSE, also known as mad cow disease, was found because the facility is one that provides tissue samples to USDA on a regular basis.

USDA collects 40,000 samples for BSE on an annual basis, Clifford said.

The case of BSE was confirmed at the USDA National Veterinary Services Laboratories in Ames, Iowa. It is not yet known whether the cow was alive or dead when it was taken to the rendering plant, but a full investigation is under way, he added.

Clifford said that the case was atypical, which he described as “a very rare form of the disease not generally associated with an animal consuming infected feed.”

He emphasized that the cow had never been presented for human consumption and that milk does not transmit BSE.

The case should not affect exports because the United States follows World Animal Health (OIE) guidelines, but Clifford said the U.S. government would share its laboratory results with international animal health reference laboratories in Canada and England.

BSE is a chronic degenerative disease affecting the central nervous systems of cattle. It can be transmitted to humans through certain tissues including brain and spine, which are known as specified risk materials.

USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service — BSE